By building with a new kind of drywall, homeowners can save big

Most methods of new home construction have been relatively unchanged for decades. The drywall found in the majority of recently built houses is the same pressed cardboard and gypsum design that has been used since the early 1980s.

Recently, scientists at Spain's Polytechnic University of Madrid have found that a new material could lead to greater energy efficiency if used in making drywall, helping homeowners save a significant amount on their energy bill.

The researchers developed a drywall that replaces the mined gypsum that is currently used as insulation with a phase-change material (PCM) that has the potential to keep the home markedly warmer during the night time and cooler by day.

The new drywall uses a PCM that is a polymer-encapsulated wax capable of absorbing five times the amount of thermal energy than traditional drywall is capable of conserving.

The PCM would absorb thermal energy during the day in its solid state and basically melt by the time night rolls around, releasing heat. Then, as the wax re-hardens during the night at a cooler temperature, it insulates the house throughout the day. According to the findings, a home using these materials will remain between 68 and 80 degrees fahrenheit all daywithout air conditioning.

A similar kind of drywall was used in 2007 during the Solar Decathlon Eco-House Competition in Washington D.C. and is beginning to make its way into mainstream markets.

For homeowners with older houses, they don't need to tear down their property and start from scratch to conserve energy. An energy audit from a home inspection contractor can highlight improvements like better insulation or roofing that can help a home stay cooler and lower monthly utility payments.